Is AB de Villiers great, or just very good?
A look into the true legacy of Mr.360
AB de Villiers is entering the twilight of his career. At 34 years of age, he already has 14 years of international cricket under his belt. We now have enough information on him to rate him alongside the other great past cricketers. But is he an all time great?
Let's start with test cricket.
De Villiers 8338 runs at 49.92 certainly is outstanding. No matter what era you have played in, to average 50 over 110 matches must have you up there with the greats. However if we break this down a bit more, it's not so pretty for De Villiers.
The South African averages above 50 against Zimbabwe, higher than 60 against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and 84 against the West Indies. With all due respect to those nations, they haven’t exactly been filled with success over the last decade or so.
Against Australia it is at an excellent 48.26. It is 42 against England, a decent drop on his overall average. It is sub 40 against New Zealand and India.
The case for De Villiers includes he has a better record away from home than he does at home, a statistic that holds some weight in the cricketing world. Virat Kohli's away average of 45 is not bad, though quite a bit down on his average of 63 at home. David Warner may average 59 at home, but only 36 away from Australia. De Villiers averages 50.68 away and 45.90 at home. Other players to average over 50 away in the modern era include Kumar Sangakkara, Steve Smith and Joe Root. Certainly a quality company for De Villiers to be alongside.
In the one day game there can be no doubt he is a great. In fact, his numbers stack up so well that he must be considered amongst the top 5 to have ever played the format.
He has played just 20 more matches than Virat Kohli and has an inferior record to him, but let's face it, so does everyone else. However it isn't too far behind. Kohli averages 58, and ABD 53, both brilliant.
ABD's strike rate is over 100. For a player who has made over 9000 runs, that is quite breathtaking. No one has matched him in this department. For the record Kohli stands at an impressive 92.
His 25 centuries is down on Kohli's 35, but Kohli has gone beyond what anyone has ever done in terms of churning out centuries, and 25 is a great return.
In terms of centuries ABD has scored half the amount of Tendulkar (25 compared to 49) and played more or less half the matches (228 compared to 463). It isn't a bad cricketer to have a similar record to.
ABD is missing a world cup trophy in the middle format of the sport. He was absolutely shattered after their heartbreaking defeat to NZ at the 2015 tournament. He has one more chance to rectify his, and his nations fortunes at this tournament next year in England and Wales.
Is ABD an all time great? In one dayers the answer is clear. In test cricket, the answer from the data is debatable.